Friday, March 24, 2006

Original Sin in the Eastern Orthodox Confessions and Catechisms

The following is from Our Orthodox Christian Faith: A Handbook of Popular Dogmatics by Athanasios S. Frangopoulos, theologian and teacher. Published by The Brotherhood of Theologians, "O Sotir", in Athens, Greece, 1984.

Chapter 9, The Original Sin:

4.d. Guilt. The original sin which brought about man's depravity also brought about his guilt. Man, through his transgression, became guilty before God as a transgressor of the divine command, guilty and accused before the justice of God the Lawgiver. The transgression contained guilt within it. Both are simultaneous. As soon as he committed the transgression he sensed guilt. within him. His conscience thundered out and said: "Sinner, you are guilty and stand accused before God". It was this sense of guilt that made the first couple realize that they were naked, and hasten to hide before the face of God. Thus, wherever sin is to be found, there, too, exists guilt. The sin that Adam committed in Paradise did not result only in the depravity and moral perversion of man. It ushered also guilt and then God's sentence and condemnation. This is felt by every man who sins. Immediately, remorse and pangs of conscience set in: a clear proof and confirmation of guilt. And the consequence of guilt is condemnation and punishment.

And this is the final phase of sin relevant to the body. Man was created from earth and unto the earth he is entrusted. God said this when He pronounced His verdict upon Adam: «ln the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat thy bread until thou return to the earth out of which thou was taken, for earth thou art and to earth thou shall return» (Gen. 3, 19).

4.e. The inheritance of Original Sin. The saddest and ugliest aspect of Original sin is its transmission from the first man to his descendants and; from generation to generation to the entire human race: a hereditary transmission as a state and sickness of human nature and as a personal guilt of every man. That is to say, not only Adam sinned but in his person all his offsprings, all men who were to be descended from Adam. This means that Adam did not sin only as an individual but as progenitor and representative of the human race. For this reason God imputed upon all men the sin of the one. And to verify this Holy Scripture states: "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3, 23). These words of the holy Apostle while certainly presenting the universality of sin do not tell us whence came this universal unhappy legacy. This the Apostle clearly defines further along when he says that it springs from the fall of the first parents. "Wherefore," says the divinely-inspired Apostle, "as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned" (Rom. 5, 12); that is, in the person of Adam all his descendants were included and all inherited the sin of Adam and the results of that sin which are guilt, corruption and the depravity of our nature, the tendency and inclination towards evil and finally death. Thus, as we have already said, "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God". In the psalms we find the verse that says: "For behold I was conceived in iniquities and in sins did my mother conceive me" (Ps. 50, 5), and which can be applied to each and every one of us. Job, aware of the weight of sin, asks, "Who is pure from uncleaness?" and gives the answer himself: "Not even one; if even his life should be but one day upon the earth" (Job 14, 4-5). Furthermore, the Evangelist St. John emphasizes that we all have need to be reborn in water and the Spirit, for through birth the pollution of sin is transmitted to all of us, for "that which is born of flesh is flesh" (John 3, 6), and every sinful man is by nature subject to divine wrath in accordance with the saying "we were by nature the children of wrath" (Eph. 2, 3).

Of course this is an incomprehensible mystery. How could men who weren't even born and consequently had neither thought nor will - necessary elements for sin - sin? How am I guilty of the sin of another, of a sin of which I personally possess no consciousness? That at sometime, somewhere I sinned and am thus justly guilty and subject to divine wrath? This is indeed an inexplicable mystery. Yet it is a fact that God imputed Adam's sin upon the entire human race, and this imputation is a mysterious one; yet its transmission is completely natural. We have already brought forth similar examples and have said that a cloudy stream springs forth from a cloudy spring and that from a rotten root rotten branches and fruit blossom forth, and that from sick parents sick children are born. Such is the case here. With infected leaven all the dough will become infected; hence if the ancestors and progenitors were sinful and corrupt so will all the descendants be. Naturally and out of unavoidable necessity and consequence.

But let us not look only at the evil heritage which we all of course deeply sense within us and for the weight and wretched consequences of which we often weep. Let us also look upon our good and excellent heritage which we enjoy as Christians unto eternal life and salvation. The former is for us a curse, the latter a blessing. Cause of the first, our carnal progenitor, the first Adam. Cause of the latter, the blessing and the grace, is the second Adam and our progenitor, the Lord Jesus Christ. The evil inheritance we possess as carnal men, the good inheritance as spiritual Christians. We bear the curse because of our descent. The blessings we possess through faith and submission to Christ the Saviour.

The following is from The Longer Catechism of the Orthodox, Catholic, Eastern Church, also known as the Catechism of Metr. St. Philaret of Moscow, Examined and Approved by the Most Holy Governing Synod, and Published for the Use of Schools, and of all Orthodox Christians, by Order of His Imperial Majesty. (Moscow, at the Synodical Press, 1830).

153. Wherefore did the Son of God come down from heaven?

For us men, and for our salvation, as it is said in the Creed.

154. In what sense is it said that the Son of God came down from heaven for us men?

In this sense: that he came upon earth not for one nation, nor for some men only, but for us men universally.

155. To save men from what did he come upon earth?

From sin, the curse, and death.

156. What is sin?

Transgression of the law. Sin is the transgression of the law. 1 John iii. 4.

157. Whence is sin in men, seeing that they were created in the image of God, and God can not sin?

From the devil. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. 1 John iii. 8.

158. How did sin pass from the devil to men?

The devil deceived Eve and Adam, and induced them to transgress God's commandment.

159. What commandment?

God commanded Adam in Paradise not to eat of the fruit of the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and withal told him, that so soon as he ate thereof he should surely die.

160. Why did it bring death to man to eat of the fruit of the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil?

Because it involved disobedience to God's will, and so separated man from God and his grace, and alienated him from the life of God.

161. What propriety is there in the name of the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil?

Man through this tree came to know by the act itself what good there is in obeying the will of God, and what evil in disobeying it.

162. How could Adam and Eve listen to the devil against the will of God?

God of his goodness, at the creation of man, gave him a will naturally disposed to love God, but still free; and man used this freedom for evil.

163. How did the devil deceive Adam and Eve?

Eve saw in Paradise a serpent, which assured her that if men ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they would know good and evil, and would become as gods. Eve was deceived by this promise, and by the fairness of the fruit, and ate of it. Adam ate after her example.

164. What came of Adam's sin?

The curse, and death.

165. What is the curse?

The condemnation of sin by God's just judgment, and the evil which from sin came upon the earth for the punishment of men. God said to Adam, Cursed is the ground for thy sake. Gen. iii. 17.

166. What is the death which came from the sin of Adam?

It is twofold: bodily, when the body loses the soul which quickened it; and spiritual, when the soul loses the grace of God, which quickened it with the higher and spiritual life.

167. Can the soul, then, die as well as the body?

It can die, but not so as the body. The body, when it dies, loses sense, and is dissolved; the soul, when it dies by sin, loses spiritual light, joy, and happiness, but is not dissolved nor annihilated, but remains in a state of darkness, anguish, and suffering.

168. Why did not the first man only die, and not all, as now?

Because all have come of Adam since his infection by sin, and all sin themselves. As from an infected source there naturally flows an infected stream, so from a father infected with sin, and consequently mortal, there naturally proceeds a posterity infected like him with sin, and like him mortal.

169. How is this spoken of in holy Scripture?

By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. Rom. v. 12.

170. Had man any benefit from the fruit of the tree of life after he had sinned?

After he had sinned, he could no more eat of it, for he was driven out of Paradise.

171. Had men, then, any hope left of salvation?

When our first parents had confessed before God their sin, God, of his mercy, gave them a hope of salvation.

The following is from Chapter VI of the Acts and Decrees of the Synod of Jerusalem (A.D. 1672).


Dositheus, by the mercy of God, Patriarch of Jerusalem, to those that ask and inquire concerning the faith and worship of the Greeks, that is of the Eastern Church, how forsooth it thinketh concerning the Orthodox faith, in the common name of all Christians subject to our Apostolic Throne, and of the Orthodox worshippers that are sojourning in this holy and great city of Jerusalem (with whom the whole Catholic Church agreeth in all that concerneth the faith) publisheth this concise Confession, for a testimony both before God and before man, with a sincere conscience, and devoid of all dissimulation.


We believe the first man created by God to have fallen in Paradise, when, disregarding the Divine commandment, he yielded to the deceitful counsel of the serpent. And hence hereditary sin flowed to his posterity; so that none is born after the flesh who beareth not this burden, and experienceth not the fruits thereof in this present world. But by these fruits and this burden we do not understand [actual] sin, such as impiety, blasphemy, murder, sodomy, adultery, fornication, enmity, and whatsoever else is by our depraved choice committed contrarily to the Divine Will, not from nature; for many both of the Forefathers and of the Prophets, and vast numbers of others, as well of those under the shadow [of the Law], as under the truth [of the Gospel], such as the divine Precursor, and especially the Mother of God the Word, the ever-virgin Mary, experienced not these, or such like faults; but only what the Divine Justice inflicted upon man as a punishment for the [original] transgression, such as sweats in labour, afflictions, bodily sicknesses, pains in child-bearing, and, in fine, while on our pilgrimage, to live a laborious life, and lastly, bodily death.

The following is from the Orthodox Confession of Faith of the Catholic and Apostolic Eastern Church also known as the Confession of Metr. Peter Mohyla, ratified by the Council of Jassy, 1642.

Q. 23. What is the state of man's innocence?

R. The state of innocence is twofold, according to St. Basil. First of all, there is the detachment in mind and intention from all sins through the lengthy practice of good deeds. Secondly, there is the absence of the experience of evil, either because of age or other reasons. It is in this second way that Adam's state of innocence before sin is taken, in all perfection and original justice as regards the intellect as well as the will. All knowledge is present in the intellect as is all goodness in the will. For since Adam knew God very well (to the degree that he was fittingly allowed), in knowing God he knew everything through him, this being a mark of the divine being. And when the animals were brought forward to be properly named, he assigned each one a name through his knowledge of their natures. His only concern was the knowledge of God and the pondering of his graces. As far as the will was concerned, it followed the principle that it was truly free and that man was free to sin or not to sin, as treated in Sacred Scripture: Do not say that God is the source of my lie, because "you must not do the things which he hates." And later: "God made man from the beginning in the hand of his own counsel, if you wish to keep the commandments and perform the accepted fidelity." And later: "Before man are life and death, good and evil; whatever he chooses will be given to him. God commanded nobody to do wickedly and gave nobody the license to sin." And so in this state of innocence, man was similar to the angels. As soon as he sinned, he became mortal that very instant through deception in the state of sin. For so says Sacred Scripture: "The wages of sin are death." Then he immediately lost the perfection of reason and knowledge, his will becoming more inclined to evil than to good. Thus was the state of innocence changed, through the experience of evil, into the state of sin, and perfect man appeared so worthless that he could now say with the Psalmist: "I am a worm, not a man."

Q. 24. Are all men subject to the same sin of Adam?

R. Just as all men were in the state of innocence with Adam, so when he sinned, all men sinned in him and have remained in that state of sin. They are subject, therefore, not only to sin but also the punishment for sin, which is expressed in God's decree: "On whatever day you shall eat of it, you will die the death." Repeating the same, the holy Apostle says: "Wherefore as by one man sin entered into this world, and by sin - death, so death passed upon all men in whom all have sinned." For this reason we are conceived in the maternal womb and born even today in this sin, as the Psalmist says: "For behold I was conceived in iniquities; and in sins did my mother conceive me." This sin is called original for these reasons: first, because before this time man was stained by no sin, although the devil sinned, through whose initiative the sin known as original arose in man. Adam, the perpetrator of the sin, is subject to it as also are we, his posterity. Secondly, it is called original because no man is conceived without it.

The following is from The Orthodox Catechism: Basic Teachings of the Orthodox Faith by Metropolitan Archbishop Sotirios of The Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Toronto, Canada, 1989.

Original Sin And Its Consequences

The disobedience and transgression of Adam and Eve is called Original Sin. What happened? As we have previously said, God gave Adam and Eve permission to eat the fruit of all trees except the fruit of the tree "of the knowledge of good and evil." Here is what the Bible says: "You may freely eat of every tree of the Garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it, you shall die"(Genesis 2:16-17). In other words, God said to Adam and to Eve, "You may eat the fruit of all of the trees that are in the Garden and that are edible; it is only the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that you should not eat. On the day that you do eat it, you shall die."

A guilty person wants an accomplice. Satan, who had been an angel and had disobeyed God, becoming Satan, felt guilty and terribly alone. He could keep company only with the other Satans, the demons. His nature had been perverted; he was unable and is unable ever to think about goodness. He always thinks and desires evil. He always seeks evil for others. He was jealous of man. He saw that he was so very happy in Paradise in the company of God. So he put his evil plans into action. As the spirit that he is, he entered the body of a snake. Then he climbed the tree of "the knowledge of good and evil." He waited there. Eve came and peered at the tree. Satan intruded upon her curiosity. He asked her, "Tell me, Eve, is it true that God told you not to eat the fruit of all of the trees?" Eve answered, "No. He told us to eat the fruit of all the trees except the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, because if we did we would die." The serpent said, "You shall not die. God knows that on the day that you eat of that fruit, your eyes will open and you will become as gods. You will know good and evil." Eve liked Satan's sweet and slanderous words. She stretched out her hand. She took a fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. She ate some, and she also gave some to her mate, Adam. They ate together. Immediately, "their eyes were opened" and they realized that they were naked (Genesis 3:1-7).

Because many people say that the Bible is being metaphorical and that by the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil the Bible refers to the sexual relationship of Adam and Eve, we repeat here that this is not true. God had decreed the sexual relationship of Adam and Eve when he told them to "increase and multiply." Then what shall we say is the original sin? It is the denunciation of God. If you will, it is the attempt of man to disenthrone God and to enthrone himself in His place, to become God in the place of God. It is not merely that he ate fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. St. John Chrysostom says about Eve, "She was filled with grandiose imaginings, hoping to be equal to God." Hoping to be equal to God, she lost her senses.

That is original sin. And its consequences? A.) Spiritual death. That is, the separation of man from God, the source of all goodness. B.) Bodily death. That is, the separation of the body from the soul, the return of the body to the earth. C.) The shattering and distortion of the "image." That is, darkness of mind, depravity and corruption of the heart, loss of independence, loss of free will, and tendency towards evil. Since then "the imagination of man's heart is evil "(Genesis 8:21). Man constantly thinks of evil. D.) Guilt. That is, a bad conscience, the shame that made him want to hide from God. E.) Worst of all, original sin is hereditary. It did not remain only Adam and Eve's. As life passes from them to all of their descendants, so does original sin. We all of us participate in original sin because we are all descended from the same forefather, Adam. This creates a problem for many people. They ask, Why should we be responsible for the actions of Adam and Eve? Why should we have to pay for the sins of our parents? they say. Unfortunately, this is so, because the consequence of original sin is the distortion of the nature of man. Of course, this is unexplainable and belongs to the realm of mystery, but we can give one example to make it somewhat better understood. Let us say that you have a wild orange tree, from which you make a graft. You will get domesticated oranges, but the root will still be that of the wild orange tree. To have wild oranges again, you must regraft the tree. This is what Christ came for and achieved for fallen man, as we shall see in the following sections.

Our Creator and Maker, ours is the fault. Adam and Eve, listening to Satan, blasphemed. Out of egotism, they allowed themselves to be misled. They distorted the "image." They darkened the beauty of the soul. They weakened the nature of mankind. Because of them, we became unrecognizable. "The imagination of our heart is evil." We constantly think of evil. We feel so guilty. We are so far away from You. We have been grafted to evil. We have lost our self-control and our free will to do good. We thank You for Your love, and for sending Your Only-begotten Son to regraft us to goodness. For giving us the possibility of returning to You. You, Lord "want every man to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." Do not deprive us of this. Do not deprive anyone of salvation. We thank You Lord.

The following is from An Online Orthodox Catechism, adopted from The Mystery of Faith: An Introduction to the Teaching and Spirituality of the Orthodox Church, by Bishop Hilarion (Alfeyev), of Vienna and Austria, 2002.


The biblical story of the Fall prefigures the entire tragic history of the human race. It shows us who we were and what we have become. It reveals that evil entered the world not by the will of God but by fault of humans who preferred diabolical deceit to divine commandment. From generation to generation the human race repeats Adam’s mistake in being beguiled by false values and forgetting the true ones — faith in God and verity to Him.

Sin was not ingrained in human nature. Yet the possibility to sin was rooted in the free will given to humans. It was indeed freedom that rendered the human being as an image of the Maker; but it was also freedom that from the very beginning contained within itself the possibility to fall away from God. Out of His love for humans God did not want to interfere in their freedom and forcibly avert sin. But neither could the devil force them to do evil. The sole responsibility for the Fall is borne by humans themselves, for they misused the freedom given to them.

What constituted the sin of the first people? St Augustine believes it to be disobedience. On the other hand, the majority of early church writers say that Adam fell as a result of pride. Pride is the wall that separates humans from God. The root of pride is egocenticity, the state of being turned in on oneself, self-love, lust for oneself. Before the Fall, God was the only object of the humans’ love; but then there appeared a value outside of God: the tree was suddenly seen to be ‘good for food’, ‘a delight to the eyes’, and something ‘to be desired’ (Gen.3:6). Thus the entire hierarchy of values collapsed: my own ‘I’ occupied the first place while the second was taken by the object of ‘my’ lust. No place has remained for God: He has been forgotten, driven from my life.

The forbidden fruit failed to bring happiness to the first people. On the contrary, they began to sense their own nakedness: they were ashamed and tried to hide from God. This awareness of one’s nakedness denotes the privation of the divine light-bearing garment that cloaked humans and defended them from the ‘knowledge of evil’. Adam’s first reaction after committing sin was burning sensation of shame. The second reaction was his desire to hide from the Creator. This shows that he had lost all notion of God’s omnipresence and would search for any place where God was ‘absent’.

However, this was not a total rupture with God. The Fall was not a complete abandonment: humans could repent and regain their former dignity. God goes out to find the fallen Adam; between the trees of Paradise He seeks him out asking ‘Where are you?’ (Gen.3:9). This humble wandering of God through Paradise prefigures Christ’s humility as revealed to us in the New Testament, the humility with which the Shepherd seeks the lost sheep. God has no need to go forth and look for Adam: He can call down from the heavens with a voice of thunder or shake the foundations of the earth. Yet He does not wish to be Adam’s judge, or his prosecutor. He still wants to count him as an equal and puts His hope in Adam’s repentance. But instead of repenting, Adam utters words of self-justification, laying the blame for everything on his wife: ‘The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate’ (Gen.3:12). In other words, ‘It was You who gave me a wife; it is You who is to blame’. In turn, Eve lays the blame for everything on the serpent.

The consequences of the Fall for the first humans were catastrophic. They were not only deprived of the bliss and sweetness of Paradise, but their whole nature was changed and disfigured. In sinning they fell away from their natural condition and entered an unnatural state of being. All elements of their spiritual and corporeal make-up were damaged: their spirit, instead of striving for God, became engrossed in the passions; their soul entered the sphere of bodily instincts; while their body lost its original lightness and was transformed into heavy sinful flesh. After the Fall the human person ‘became deaf, blind, naked, insensitive to the good things from which he had fallen away, and above all became mortal, corruptible and without sense of purpose’ (St Symeon the New Theologian). Disease, suffering and pain entered human life. Humans became mortal for they had lost the opportunity of tasting from the tree of life.

Not only humanity but also the entire world changed as a result of the Fall. The original harmony between people and nature had been broken; the elements had become hostile; storms, earthquakes and floods could destroy life. The earth would no longer provide everything of its own accord; it would have to be tilled ‘in the sweat of your face’, and would produce ‘thorns and thistles’. Even the animals would become the human being’s enemy: the serpent would ‘bruise his heel’ and other predators would attack him (Gen.3:14-19). All of creation would be subject to the ‘bondage of decay’. Together with humans it would now ‘wait for freedom’ from this bondage, since it did not submit to vanity voluntarily but through the fault of humanity (Rom.8:19-21).


After Adam and Eve sin spread rapidly throughout the human race. They were guilty of pride and disobedience, while their son Cain committed fratricide. Cain’s descendants soon forgot about God and set about organizing their earthly existence. Cain himself ‘built a city’. One of his closest descendants was ‘the father of those who dwell in tents and have cattle’; another was ‘the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe’; yet another was ‘the forger of all instruments of bronze and iron’ (Gen.4:17-22). The establishment of cities, cattle-breeding, music and other arts were thus passed onto humankind by Cain’s descendants as a surrogate of the lost happiness of Paradise.

The consequences of the Fall spread to the whole of the human race. This is elucidated by St Paul: ‘Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned’ (Rom.5:12). This text, which formed the Church’s basis of her teaching on ‘original sin’, may be understood in a number of ways: the Greek words ef’ ho pantes hemarton may be translated not only as ‘because all men sinned’ but also ‘in whom [that is, in Adam] all men sinned’. Different readings of the text may produce different understandings of what ‘original sin’ means.

If we accept the first translation, this means that each person is responsible for his own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression. Here, Adam is merely the prototype of all future sinners, each of whom, in repeating Adam’s sin, bears responsibility only for his own sins. Adam’s sin is not the cause of our sinfulness; we do not participate in his sin and his guilt cannot be passed onto us.

However, if we read the text to mean ‘in whom all have sinned’, this can be understood as the passing on of Adam’s sin to all future generations of people, since human nature has been infected by sin in general. The disposition toward sin became hereditary and responsibility for turning away from God sin universal. As St Cyril of Alexandria states, human nature itself has ‘fallen ill with sin’; thus we all share Adam’s sin as we all share his nature. St Macarius of Egypt speaks of ‘a leaven of evil passions’ and of ‘secret impurity and the abiding darkness of passions’, which have entered into our nature in spite of our original purity. Sin has become so deeply rooted in human nature that not a single descendant of Adam has been spared from a hereditary predisposition toward sin.

The Old Testament writers had a vivid sense of their inherited sinfulness: ‘Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me’ (Ps.51:7). They believed that God ‘visits the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and the fourth generation’ (Ex.20:5). In the latter words reference is not made to innocent children but to those whose own sinfulness is rooted in the sins of their forefathers.

From a rational point of view, to punish the entire human race for Adam’s sin is an injustice. But not a single Christian dogma has ever been fully comprehended by reason. Religion within the bounds of reason is not religion but naked rationalism, for religion is supra-rational, supra-logical. The doctrine of original sin is disclosed in the light of divine revelation and acquires meaning with reference to the dogma of the atonement of humanity through the New Adam, Christ: ‘...As one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous... so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord’ (Rom.5:18-21).

The following is from the Catechism Of The Greek Orthodox Church by the Rev. Constas H. Demetry, D. D., Doctor of the Ecumenical Throne.


Q. Were our First Parents happy, and why?

A. Our First Parents were happy because they were innocent.

Q. Did God give them any commands and why?

A. He commanded them not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, that He might test their obedience. (Many people think that the fruit which the First Parents ate in disobedience to God was the carnal connexion. This is not true, because the lawful carnal connexion of man and woman and procreation of children is in accordance with the will of God, since God, as soon as He created the First Parents, blessed them and said to them:"Be Fruitful, and multiply, and fill the earth.." ...Genesis Chapter 1, Verse 28.

Q. Did they remain faithful to God? A. No, they fell into temptation, disobeyed, and sinned.

Q. What good would they have had if they had obeyed?

A. Their bodies would have become immortal like their souls, and they would have insured for themselves forever the happiness which they had.

Q. What did they suffer through the sin of disobedience?

A. 1. Their minds became darkened and they lost God. 2. Their hearts became perverted and they began to love the evil more than the good. 3. They fell into sickness and various other evils. 4. Their bodies became mortal. 5. Their souls were condemned to moral death, which is separation from God, i.e. eternal misfortune.

Q. Did only our First Parents suffer from their disobedience?

A. Unfortunately the whole human race born since has also suffered. They inherited the same evils, just as they would have inherited immortality and happiness, if our First Parents had obeyed; because just as impure water proceeds from an impure fountain so also sinful men are born of sinful ancestors.

Q. Did the rest of creation suffer anything from the disobedience of our First Parents?

A. Assuredly; and because of this, since then, "the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.", as the Apostle Paul writes in the Book of Romans, Chapter 8, Verse 22.

Q. What is that sin of disobedience, with all the evils which it brought, called?

A. The original sin.

Q. Are we responsible for the original sin?

A. Personally none; because we did not personally commit the sin of our First Parents; but we are charged with it by inheritance because we were in Adam and Eve when they sinned, and for this reason the Apostle Paul writes: "..all have sinned." ...Book of Romans, Chapter 5, Verse 12. Page 16

Q. Has anyone been exempted from the original sin?

A. Only Jesus Christ, because He was incarnate of the Holy Spirit, which, being God, is without sin, and of the Virgin Mary after her cleansing of original sin by the Holy Spirit when the Angel announced to her the conception and birth of Christ.

Q. Does man also carry the burden of other sins besides the original sin?

A. Assuredly; personal sins. (The personal sins are mortal and non-mortal. Mortal are those which destroy any hope of repentance, because they bring the death of the soul, namely, moral, eternal death. But every sin may be forgiven by since repentance.

Q. What do personal sins lead to?

A. Personal sins lead to passion.

Q. What is passion and what evils does it inflict?

A. Passion is a bad habit, acquired through the repetition of sin. It takes away freedom and inflicts the same evils as the original sin.


Anonymous said...

[Originally posted 2006-3-25 @ 9:03:27 am]


Are you stating that Orthodoxy teaches man has inherited guilt from Adam? That man is a sinner by nature?

Ephrem replies: That appears to be the position of all of the documents here cited. It raises some interesting questions about some currently popular teachings, no?

Anonymous said...

[Originally posted 2006-3-26 @ 6:03:39 pm]

How would you respond to Fr. John Romanides of Blessed Memory?-

"Whether or not belief in the present, real and active power of Satan appeals to the Biblical theologian, he cannot ignore the importance that St. Paul attributes to the power of the devil. To do so is to completely misunderstand the problem of original sin and its transmission and so misinterpret the mind of the New Testament writers and the faith of the whole ancient Church. In regard to the power of Satan to introduce sin into the life of every man, St. Augustine in combating Pelagianism obviously misread St. Paul. by relegating the power of Satan, death, and corruption to the background and pushing to the foreground of controversy the problem of personal guilt in the transmission of original sin, St. Augustine introduced a false moralistic philosophical approach which is foreign to the thinking of St. Paul [ 19 ] and which was not accepted by the patristic tradition of the East. [ 20] "

[ 19 ] Col. 2:8

[ 20 ] e.g., St. Cyrill of Alexandria, Migne, P.G.t. 74, c. 788-789

Ephrem replies:
I would first say that I believe that Romanides misinterprets St. Augustine in general, and does so in particular here by his assertion that for the Bishop of Hippo the power of Satan, death, and corruption were pushed into the background in favour of personal guilt. I believe Romanides radical opposition to everything Augustinian and Western hopelessly colours his assessments. In short, Romanides normally operated in the realm of attacking straw-men.

Nobody at all, Eastern or Western, teaches that all men are personally guilty of Adam's personal sin. Rather, we all believe that, in a judicial sense, humanity was declared guilty when our federal head, Adam, sinned, thus placing the entire race under the dominion of Satan. In an ontological sense, we affirm that by his sin, Adam brought on the whole race of man death and corruption of nature so that the is not one innocent person born by normal generation. As St. Cyril of Alexandria said, "Since [Adam] produced children after falling into this state, we, his descendants, are corruptible as the issue of a corruptible source. It is in this sense that we are heirs of Adam's curse. Not that we are punished for having disobeyed God's commandment along with him, but that he became mortal and the curse of mortality was transmitted to his seed after him, offspring born of a mortal source . . . So corruption and death are the universal inheritance of Adam's transgression...Human nature became sick with sin. Because of the disobedience of one (that is, of Adam), the many became sinners; not because they transgressed together with Adam (for they were not there) but because they are of his nature, which entered under the dominion of sin . . . Human nature became ill and subject to corruption through the transgression of Adam, thus penetrating man's very passions."

Fr. Alexander Golubov puts it this way:

It can be said that while we have not inherited the guilt of Adam's personal sin, because his sin is also of a generic nature, and because the entire human race is possessed of an essential, ontological unity, we participate in it by virtue of our participation in the human race. "The imparting of Original Sin by means of natural heredity should be understood in terms of the unity of the entire human nature, and of the homoousiotitos [i.e., coessentiality, consubstantiality] of all men, who, connected by nature, constitute one mystic whole. Inasmuch as human nature is indeed unique and unbreakable, the imparting of sin from the first-born to the entire human race descended from him is rendered explicable: 'Explicitly, as from the root, the sickness proceeded to the rest of the tree, Adam being the root who had suffered corruption'" [St. Cyril of Alexandria].

Thus, the Orthodox confessions and catechisms I quoted take what is in my opinion a very balanced view of the Original or Ancestral Sin, while Romanides, and other currently popular teachers like Kalomiros and Azkoul take what I consider to be an unbalanced view that (maybe deliberately) entirely misrepresents and slanders the position of the Christian West.

It is interesting to note that if you look at the Reformed Confessions, the ultimate in "Augustinianism", while they do talk about the imputation of Original Sin to the race, they more concerned with the ontological effects of this corrupt inheritance:

The Belgic Confession Article 15: Of Original Sin.

We believe that, through the disobedience of Adam, original sin is extended to all mankind; which is a corruption of the whole nature, and an hereditary disease, wherewith infants themselves are infected even in their mother's womb, and which produceth in man all sorts of sin, being in him as a root thereof; and therefore is so vile and abominable in the sight of God, that it is sufficient to condemn all mankind. Nor is it by any means abolished or done away by baptism; since sin always issues forth from this woeful source, as water from a fountain; notwithstanding it is not imputed to the children of God unto condemnation, but by his grace and mercy is forgiven them. Not that they should rest securely in sin, but that a sense of this corruption should make believers often to sigh, desiring to be delivered from this body of death. Wherefore we reject the error of the Pelagians, who assert that sin proceeds only from imitation.

The Heidelberg Catechism Question 7.

Question. Whence then proceeds this depravity of human nature?

Answer. From the fall and disobedience of our first parents, Adam and Eve, in Paradise; hence our nature is become so corrupt, that we are all conceived and born in sin.

The Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter VI. Of the Fall of Man, of Sin, and of the Punishment thereof.

I. Our first parents, begin seduced by the subtilty and temptations of Satan, sinned in eating the forbidden fruit. This their sin God was pleased, according to his wise and holy counsel, to permit, having purposed to order it to his own glory.

II. By this sin they fell from their original righteousness and communion with God, and so became dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul and body.

III. They being the root of mankind, the guilt of this sin was imputed, and the same death in sin and corrupted nature conveyed to all their posterity, descending from them by original generation.

IV. From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions.

V. This corruption of nature, during this life, doth remain in those that are regenerated; and although it be through Christ pardoned and mortified, yet both itself, and all the motions thereof, are truly and properly sin.

VI. Every sin, both original and actual, being a transgression of the righteous law of God, and contrary thereunto, doth, in its own nature, bring guilt upon the sinner, whereby he is bound over to the wrath of God, and curse of the law, and so made subject to death, with all miseries spiritual, temporal, and eternal.

Anonymous said...

[Originally posted 2006-8-27 @ 9:08:48 pm]

Thank you very much for the information on the Orthodox and Original Sin, Atonement, etc. I am an American convert to Greek Orthodoxy, but lately I have been studying the intricacies of the Orthodox emphasis on Theosis and the Incarnation vs. their (our) alleged downplaying of the doctrines of justification by faith and the Atonement. I’ve been feeling a bit guilty, in that I know that Scripture itself teaches the latter, while it seems that the Orthodox Church almost disowns them— guilty because I find myself objecting that the Orthodox Church is only telling half the story here. Seeing your articles and quotes from the Fathers really helps reassure me that my gut feeling and long-time knowledge from Bible reading, was not as far out in heresy-land as some Orthodox would say they are. Romanides and the Orchid Land Publications website make fascinating reading, but I think they are also somewhat caricaturing (some of your articles read, ’slandering’) the West and, as you say, putting up “straw-men” so they can knock them down.
Thanks for gathering some evidence for the “other side”, within the pale of Orthodoxy herself!

Anonymous said...

[Originally posted 2006-9-1 @ 10:09:49 pm]

Another vital post! I am certainly enjoying my visit to your site - learning so much about another side of Orthodoxy, shall we say? A side that is actually informed about Western Christianity through a study of the sources, and therefore clearly not content merely to repeat second-hand cliches.

I shall continue reading to my benefit, I’m sure. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

[Originally posted 2006-9-2 @ 10:09:41 pm]


If you believe that there is no essential difference between Orthodox and Roman views of ancestral sin, do you believe that has any relevance to the Orthodox rejection of dogmatizing the Immaculate Conception idea?

EHB replies: No. I think that this issue is not historically part of the Orthodox apologia against the Immaculate Conception, but has been tacked on in the last century or so by those who lean toward a neo-Pelagian concept of the transmission of sin. An excellent example of the traditional schema for rejecting the Immaculate Conception can be found in the book The Orthodox Veneration of Mary the Birthgiver of God, by St. John Maximovitch, the relevant chapter of which can be found here.

Anonymous said...

[Originally posted 2006-11-18 @ 10:11:28 pm]


What do you make of Fr. Meyendorff's claim that ,"The idea [the inheritance of the Fall as an inheritance essentially of mortality rather than of sinfulness] appears in Chrysostom, who specifically denies the imputation of sin to the descendants of Adam (In Rom. hom 10); in the eleventh-century commentator Theophylact of Ohrida (Exp. in Rom) and in later Byzantine authors, particularly Gregory Palamas. " He (Meyendorff) also states of Maximus, "sin remains...a personal act, and inherited guilt is impossible. For him, as for the others, 'the wrong choice made by Adam brought in passion, corruption, and mortality', but not inherited guilt."

Given that the preponderence of texts you cite are fairly recent (Dositheus the oldest in the 17th century); is there - in your view - some sort of a "gap" between early Orthodox views on this and later views -- perhaps those influenced by the west?

How can all these men (Schmemann; Ware; Meyendorff; Ernst Benz; etc.) all have this so wrong?

EHB replies:
I think that I answered this in my reply to the comments of David Sanders (Number 2 on this page), which also, by the way, includes the view of St. Cyril of Alexandria on the matter. I believe there is actual continuity on this matter throughout Orthodox history on the matter of Ancestral or Original Sin that has only been broken in the past century or so, (in my view) because of the influence of western theological liberalism.

As to the "wrongness" of certain popular contemporary thinkers, I don't think you necessarily express the whole of their view as to what "mortality" encompasses (it includes moral corruption).

Ware, for example, writes:

"Adam’s fall consisted essentially in his disobedience of the will of God; he set up his own will against the divine will, and so by his own act he separated himself from God. As a result, a new form of existence appeared on earth — that of disease and death. By turning away from God, who is immortality and life, man put himself in a state that was contrary to nature, and this unnatural condition led to an inevitable disintegration of his being and eventually to physical death. The consequences of Adam’s disobedience extended to all his descendants. We are members one of another, as Saint Paul never ceased to insist, and if one member suffers the whole body suffers. In virtue of this mysterious unity of the human race, not only Adam but all mankind became subject to mortality. Nor was the disintegration which followed from the fall merely physical. Cut off from God, Adam and his descendants passed under the domination of sin and of the devil. Each new human being is born into a world where sin prevails everywhere, a world in which it is easy to do evil and hard to do good. Man’s will is weakened and enfeebled by what the Greeks call ‘desire’ and the Latins ‘concupiscence.’ We are all subject to these, the spiritual effects of original sin."

Perhaps the following comment by Fr. Raphael Vereshack (ROCOR), in the Monachos forum archives will be helpful in general:

I think we have to be very careful here. A reading of the western Fathers shows us that very early on they were using expressions that seem more juridical compared to the eastern Fathers. I think that in most cases however this didn't mean any fundamental difference but more just a different way of dealing with these issues.

Original guilt I think is one of these differences. There are the Augustinian mistakes from exaggeration at times. But more often & even with St Augustine most of the time the difference is more one of what one stresses or maybe how a point is made. (eg guilt refers to the guilt we share from the primordial sin of Adam & Eve; ie we all stand accused for this common sin & only Christ's act of self-sacrifice can absolve us of this guilt.)

We need to keep in mind however that it is Patristic to acknowledge how we all share in the sin of Adam & Eve. The Eastern fathers at times stress the personal aspect of this- while the Western fathers may stress something more juridical; but still either way one puts it, it is meant in the sense of how we share in a common sin with cosmic effects which only Christ as the God-man could heal or absolve us from.

Thus no matter what we call it; and often this was just called 'the sin of Adam'; we mean something far more than the sin of Adam & Eve which at some point in infancy we begin to personally share in due to personal choice. This or any understanding which implies this is not complete or Patristic.

For the Fathers were acutely aware of the cosmic effects of sin on us & of how it has debilitated our free will to the extent that, yes- we are enslaved to sin. Personal sin may describe the mode by which we fall into original sin & it may describe our responsibility for this sin. But none of this is meant as denying the cosmic effects of this sin and of how at birth (probably right from the womb) our personal mode of willing is already severely inclined to sin. To overlook this would be to fall into Pelagianism.

Of course however the Fathers would not end the story with sin. Rather precisely due to the cosmic, debilitating & personal effects of sin on man & creation, the fathers also understood how only in Christ could freedom be found. In other words the personal aspect of original sin which we so often comment on, is of no effect whatsoever (unless our aim is to be like mice that go around & around on their wheel eternally and never get anywhere) unless Christ is also put into this picture.

Original guilt? Maybe here also there's more to account for than we are used to seeing. After all St Isaac prayed for reptiles; as he makes clear, this kind of prayer only comes from a sense of ones own fundamental sinfulness.

Anonymous said...

[Originally posted 2006-11-21 @ 5:11:08 pm]

Thanks for the quotes. My trouble is with the idea that "inherited sin" is qualitatively the same as "inherited guilt". I agree with Bp. Ware's assessment that "We are all subject to these [IE., the consequences of mortality], the spiritual effects of original sin.” No one argues that. But are the "effects" the same as being "guilty" of the original sin itself?

Ephrem replies: You must have missed what I said in the comment to which I referred you, to wit, "Nobody at all, Eastern or Western, teaches that all men are personally guilty of Adam’s personal sin. Rather, we all believe that, in a judicial sense, humanity was declared guilty when our federal head, Adam, sinned, thus placing the entire race under the dominion of Satan."

I would use the analogy of the drug baby. The baby is certainly subject to the consequences of the original sin of the drug-abusing mother; but isn't there a qualitative difference between the baby's victimization, and the "guilt" of the mother, through whose "sin" the baby experiences the "effects" and the "consequences"?

Ephrem replies: The baby analogy falls apart in that you are not speaking of a fall on the part of the mother that necessarily leads to a condition affecting the child that he cannot overcome without a spiritual rebirth. But both he and his mother inherited corruption from Adam, and thus neither is innocent of sin, but like all of us, are sinners from our conception, even if we have committed no actions at all, since, as St. Cyril of Alexandria points out, "[C]orruption and death are the universal inheritance of Adam’s transgression…Because of the disobedience of one (that is, of Adam), the many became sinners; not because they transgressed together with Adam (for they were not there) but because they are of his nature, which entered under the dominion of sin . . . Human nature became ill and subject to corruption through the transgression of Adam, thus penetrating man’s very passions.”

Sin is not just particular actions, but a state of the heart, and we are all guilty of it, and the only cure is the medicine of Christ.

Why does this matter? Is this simply "splitting hairs"? I don't think so. I think the reason the eastern fathers emphasize(d) the difference is to protect the "character" of the loving Father. I don't see - nor do the fathers I have read seem to see - a characterization of a God who imputes the guilt of Adam to his successors, as consistent with the view of a loving God. There is another way to understand this issue , without the implication that the Father favors "righteous justice" over mercy. That understanding is the prevailing and preponderant view of the E.O. Church, which -- generally speaking -- draws a distinction between "sin" and its consequences, and the "guilt" that caused it. The Confession of Dositheus - often pointed to as a primary source of E.O. doctrine in the 17th century and as a response to Protestant Calvinism (Decress XI and XVI) doesn't equate "sin" and the fact that infants are "subject to eternal punishment" without baptism, to "inherited guilt".

Ephrem replies: Of course it doesn't, since nobody at all, Eastern or Western, teaches that all men are personally guilty of Adam’s personal sin.

What the Confessio Dosithei does say is this:

We believe Holy Baptism, which was instituted by the Lord, and is conferred in the name of the Holy Trinity, to be of the highest necessity. For without it none is able to be saved, as the Lord saith, “Whosoever is not born of water and of the Spirit, shall in no wise enter into the Kingdom of the Heavens.” And, therefore, it is necessary even for infants, since they also are subject to original sin, and without Baptism are not able to obtain its remission. Which the Lord shewed when he said, not of some only, but simply and absolutely, “Whosoever is not born [again],” which is the same as saying, “All that after the coming of Christ the Saviour would enter into the Kingdom of the Heavens must be regenerated.” And forasmuch as infants are men, and as such need salvation; needing salvation, they need also Baptism. And those that are not regenerated, since they have not received the remission of hereditary sin, are, of necessity, subject to eternal punishment, and consequently cannot without Baptism be saved; so that even infants ought, of necessity, to be baptised. Moreover, infants are saved, as is said in Matthew; but he that is not baptised is not saved. And consequently even infants must of necessity be baptised.

Jeremias II's corrections of the Augsburg Confession doesn't speak to the issue at all - it certainly doesn't agree with the Augsburg Confession on this point either (sin = guilt).

Ephrem replies: This is incorrect. Jeremias II, in his First Answer, says:

Your second article contains the assertion that every man is guilty of original sin. We also affirm that this is, indeed, the truth. The psalmist says in the 5oth Psalm: "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity and in sin did my mother conceive me." And the Lord says in the Gospels concerning the purging away of original sin: "Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven."

Jeremias does not go on to qualify this agreement in any fashion, but rather proceeds immediately to the issue of trine immersion.

The section of the Augsburg Confession to which he is giving this unqualified agreement, incidentally, runs thus:

Also they teach that since the fall of Adam all men begotten in the natural way are born with sin, that is, without the fear of God, without trust in God, and with concupiscence; and that this disease, or vice of origin, is truly sin, even now condemning and bringing eternal death upon those not born again through Baptism and the Holy Ghost.

They Condemn the Pelagians and others who deny that original depravity is sin, and who, to obscure the glory of Christ's merit and benefits, argue that man can be justified before God by his own strength and reason.

Note that Jeremias II is the one who uses the word "guilty"; the term does not appear in Article 2 of the Augustana.

I would have to argue that in fact the position you are taking on this issue is a "contemporary" one, based more on the influence of western theology than patristic theology.

Ephrem replies: I would argue the opposite - that the preoccupation of so many western converts to Orthodoxy with this (spurious) issue is itself to a great extent the effect of the influence of Protestant Liberalism on Orthodox scholars in the West, a false antinomy, since nobody believes that anyone is personally guilty of Adam' particular sinful action but Adam, and a confusion between individual and corporate condemnation which stresses the unfairness of each individual being condemned as a result of what our corporate progenitor did. And I frankly have not found it to be an issue under scrutiny except in the past hundred years or so.

I refer you to the quote above, from Fr. Alexander Golubov, in Comment #2.

I can quote Chrysostom; Basil; the Damascene; Cyril and others on this distinction.

Ephrem replies: I can think of two places, off the top of my head, where the divine Chrysostomos ascribes guilt to us for Original Sin:

“Now we know that what things soever the Law saith, it saith to them who are under the Law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.”... He does not say the Jew, but the whole of mankind. For the phrase, “that every mouth may be stopped,” is the language of a person hinting at them, although he has not stated it clearly, so as to prevent the language being too harsh. But the words “that all the world may become guilty before God,” are spoken at once both of Jews and of Greeks. Now this is no slight thing with a view to take down their unreasonableness. Since even here they have no advantage over the Gentiles, but are alike given up as far as salvation is concerned. For he would be in strict propriety called a guilty person, who cannot help himself to any excuse, but needeth the assistance of another: and such was the plight of all of us, in that we had lost the things pertaining to salvation." (Homily VII on Romans)


"He saw us in such great guilt, he did not reject us; was not wroth, turned not away, hated us not, for He was a Master, and could not hate His own creation. But what does he do? As a most excellent physician, He prepareth medicines of great price, and Himself tastes them first. For He Himself first followed after virtue, and thus gave it to us. And He first gave us the washing, like some antidote, and thus we vomited up all our guilt, and all things took their flight at once, and our inflammation ceased, and our fever was quenched, and our sores were dried up. For all the evils which are from covetousness, and anger, and all the rest, were dissipated by the Spirit. Our eyes were opened, our ears were opened, our tongue spake holy words: our soul received strength, our body received such beauty and bloom, as it is like that he who is born a son of God should have from the grace of the Spirit; such glory as it is like that the new-born son of a king should have, nurtured in purple." (Homily XI on Philippians)

Saying "no matter what we call it" - for me - is a cop out. It's to argue the loving father is really not so loving and as Fr. Romanides wrote (paraphrasing) more interested in His own righteousness than in mercy.

Ephrem replies: I have said no such thing. But I think we must be very careful in imposing our own ideas of what constitutes love, righteousness, and mercy upon God, rather than taking our definition of these from His self-revelation.

Anonymous said...

[Originally posted 2006-11-23 @ 12:11:55 pm]

Thank you! I appreciate the time you took to respond. I guess I have to be careful to draw such a sharp distinction between east-west on the issue of original sin. Perhaps I'm hung up on my understanding of the etymology of the word "guilt".

Ephrem replies: Thank you for asking what I consider to be very necessary questions.

As to the portion about being "hung up on my understanding of the etymology of the word 'guilt'", I say, "Perhaps." What might be more to the point, though, is an excerpt from one of your blog entries, Sin and the heart. After referring to your debate with a certain Lutheran on the issue of Original Sin, you call the doctrine, "one - if not the - key dividers between eastern and western Christianity", and then proceed to quote an article in the Antiochian periodical The Word (November 2006), titled "What is primary to Orthodox Spirituality?" and written by one Rich Burns of the Saint Ignatius Mission in Mesa, Arizona. The relevant portion is:

My daughter just had a child. Holding him, I thought, “It is so difficult to believe than an infant’s heart is sinful.” Many teach this, but not Orthodoxy. We do not believe that we are totally depraved, as many protestants do. Nor do we believe we are born with the guilt of sin, as the Romans teach. Instead, we are born in innocence and our heart is pure.

At this juncture, I must point out that Mr. Burns' statement here, which is manifestly not true (see the catechetical and conciliar-confessional quotations above), is pure Pelagianism. There is no man without sin, and even if no sinful action has yet been committed, the person born, coming forth from a corrupt spring, shares in the universal corruption of humanity.

To be sure, we all sin. Yet some, as did our Lady the Theotokos, continue in purity of heart the rest of their lives, as blameless.

This is not a dogma of the Church, even though it is often taught as such, especially by those who are militating against the doctrine of Original Sin. It has always been a controversial point, and has been contested by no less than such great hierarchs and ecumenical teachers as St. John Chrysostomos, St. Basil the Great, St. Cyril of Jerusalem, St. Cyril of Alexandria, and St. Ephrem the Syrian. And, though many will affirm that she may have never acted sinfully, they largely consider that her moment of cleansing (Second Birth in the terminology of Mor Ephrem) was the Annunciation. (For more discussion of this issue, follow the links in my reply to comment #5, vide supra.)

I suspect that the kind of thinking that Mr. Burns is engaged in here is more at the root of the issue than anything about the etymology of the word "guilt".

Anonymous said...

[Originally posted 2006-11-27 @ 5:11:19 pm]

Very interesting and very helpful, Ephrem. Many thanks!

Ephrem replies: Thanks to you also - I saw the entry about this on your site, as well as the interesting exchange it has produced.

Ephrem Hugh Bensusan said...

[Originally posted 2006-11-28 @ 7:11:28 pm]

It has been pointed out to me by a Lutheran pastor, Fr. David Jay Webber, that Patriarch Jeremias II was not responding to the standard version of the Augustana in the Book of Concord, but rather to a Greek translation thereof that was, "a more highly elaborated document that was more of a paraphrase of the original." This version of the Augsburg Confession is available online in English here.

So, the Patriarch was responding to the following even more strongly-worded description of Original Sin, and giving his unqualified assent.

They also teach that, after the transgression of Adam­ the first-formed, all men from father and mother are born sinners by nature, that is, without fear of God, without trust in Him, but with concupiscence and disorder, and that they are clothed in innate worthlessness and wretchedness. In consent and in accordance with the opinion and teaching of the holy Fathers and all the orthodox and pious in the Church, they state that the innate worthlessness and wretchedness of­ ­­human nature is the liability and subjection to eternal damnation for all men, through the transgression of the first-formed, in which every man by nature is born a child of the wrath of God, subject to and under the power of eternal death; moreover, they teach that the corruption of human nature is implanted in everyone from Adam, and it comprises the deprivation or the deficiency of original justice, and of integrity or of obedience, and concupiscence.

This deficiency is a terrible blindness, and ignorance of God, an obscuring or overshadowing of divine illumination and knowledge of God, which would have radiated in human nature were it still undamaged and unstumbled, and it is a distortion of rectitude: that is, a corruption of the unchangeable and uninterrupted obedience, and of the undis­guised and unmixed and unsurpassed love of God, and of things similar to these impressed by God on the untarnished human nature before the fall. They say that this affliction or wickedness of the corrupted human nature is truly sin, sentencing to eternal death all men up to the present who have not been born again through baptism and the Holy Spirit.

Thinking and teaching in this way, they condemn the so-called Pelagians and the others, moreover, who, to the dishonour of the redemption and the good works of Christ, deny that wretchedness and worthlessness from birth is sin, and they contend and say that man by his own powers of the soul can fulfil the law of God and be justified before Him.

Anonymous said...

[Originally posted 2006-12-9 @ 3:12:34 pm]

“At this juncture, I must point out that Mr. Burns’ statement here, which is manifestly not true (see the catechetical and conciliar-confessional quotations above), is pure Pelagianism.”

I agree. Unfortunately, I’ve also heard such statements pronounced from the pulpit on a Sunday morning before a crowded Church. I wonder how much damage is being brought about by our clergy whose seminary texts at St. Vladimir’s and Holy Cross consist mainly of anti-Western, knee jerk material. Most of the clergy I’ve talked to think that Romanides should practically be canonized, but they ignore other works that speak of the atonement as a victory AND a propitiation (like Pomozansky’s “Orthodox Dogmatic Theology”).

Anyway, I’ll just leave theology to the theologians. I find it hard enough to *live* the Christian life without getting myself caught up in the theological debates… probably because of my inherited corrupt nature and my inborn participation in the guilt of Adam.